Main Event: Luke Rockhold vs. Keith Jardine
By: MMA WRITER MICHAEL ALEXANDER
The Strikeforce middle weight championship belt will be on the line on January 7th when the champ, Luke Rockhold (8-1), takes on seasoned veteran, Keith “The Dean of Mean” Jardine (17-9-2), in a 5 round bout sure to showcase the underappreciated talent that Strikeforce possesses. This fight marks not only the first fight for Jardine at MW, but it is Rockhold’s first title defense.
Luke Rockhold is the epitome of a quickly rising talent in the MW division. At just 26 years old, he has already proved that he is the real deal. Ever since making his professional debut in 2007, he has been a submission wizard, winning six of his eight fights by submission, amazingly all in the first round. In addition to the seven fight win streak he is currently riding, he has also won four fights in a row using only the rear naked choke. While only possessing a brown belt in jiu-jitsu, Rockhold is a force to be reckoned with in the submission department.
Just an FYI, don’t let Rockhold’s record fool you. While he only possesses one win by KO, this man is a wrecking machine standing up. A student at the American Kickboxing Academy, Rockhold has become a quick learner. In his championship fight against Ronaldo “Jacaré” Souza, Rockhold showed very crisp kicks, fantastic three hit combos, and overall showed true unpredictability when striking with Souza. The only problem Rockhold has is that his stance is similar to a Tae Kwon Do stance, meaning he keeps his hands lower than the average fighter, making his head an easier target and inadvertently making himself prone to counter strikes. But that is an easy fix, and as Rockhold becomes more comfortable standing, he could be a truly scary striker.
If Luke Rockhold is considered rising star, then Keith Jardine has to be a grizzled veteran. At 36 years old, Jardine has seen just about everything MMA has to offer. Making his debut at MW, this will be his third weight class that he has competed in. A member of the second season of The Ultimate Fighter, and possessing one of the weirdest stances seen in MMA today, Jardine had beaten some of the very best in the sport, including Forrest Griffin, Brandon Vera, and Chuck Liddell.
It seems like whenever someone tried to label Jardine as this or that style fighter, he shows a new aspect of his game. With a background in professional boxing, Jardine had always been fond of the standup aspect of fighting. He isn’t the most technical striker, but don’t underestimate him. You can ask Forrest and Chuck what happens when you underestimate Keith. He is also a pretty good wrestler, evident in his last fight with Gegard Mousasi, where Jardine took Mousasi down at will. If there is any fighter deserving the title “Freestyle fighter” it’s Jardine.
Personally, I don’t believe Jardine deserved this shot at Rockhold’s title. Not because Jardine is a bad fighter, but because he is coming off of a very controversial draw and the fact that he has never fought at MW. As for the fight predictions, I have to side with Luke Rockhold. Jardine has never been anything more than an upper-tier gate keeper, and it seems like age is finally starting to creep up on him. Jardine looks like he has lost a step and just exited his prime, while Rockhold hasn’t even come close to his prime yet. Unless Jardine catches Rockhold with a counter punch, something that is very possible considering Rockhold’s hand placement and stance, I see Rockhold taking Jardine down and submitting Jardine late in the 3rd round.
Also on the card for that evening, “Ruthless” Robbie Lawlor (18-8), looks to end a two fight losing streak as he takes on rising striker, Adlan Amagov (9-1-1). Another great looking matchup pits former Strikeforce LHW champ, Muhammad “King Mo” Lawal (8-1) vs undefeated Lorenz Larkins (12-0).
Main card (Showtime)
- Middleweight Championship bout Luke Rockhold" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luke_Rockhold">Luke Rockhold (c) vs. Keith Jardine
- Middleweight bout: Robbie Lawler vs. Adlan Amagov" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adlan_Amagov">Adlan Amagov
- Light Heavyweight bout: Muhammed Lawal vs. Lorenz Larkin
- Welterweight bout: Tyron Woodley vs. Jordan Mein
- Welterweight bout: Tarec Saffiedine vs. Tyler Stinson
Preliminary card (Showtime Extreme)
- Lightweight bout: Bobby Green vs. Alonzo Martinez
- Welterweight bout: Nah-Shon Burrell vs. James Terry
- Light Heavyweight bout: Trevor Smith vs. Gian Villante
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